My daughter has been a handful since her birth.
When I was pregnant with her, I elected to have a c-section because my first baby had been an unplanned c-section after 2 days of labor. He has over 9 pounds and was born with a cone-shaped head and a large bruise over one eye from where his fat body had been jammed against pelvis. I did not want to go through that again.
I assumed my second child would be another small hippo, so imagine my complete shock when she was born and weighed less than 7 pounds.
She was fitful the first night and had difficulty nursing. The nurse who worked that night told me she suspected that the baby was tongue-tied, which made it hard for her to latch on. This was true. At two-weeks, she had surgery to free her tongue. Before then, she could not extend it past her lip. She had figured out how to nurse and gained weight well.
At 5 weeks, she came down with a cold. She was retracting in order to breathe. She slept all the time and stopped eating. I had to pump because I had become engorged. Her doctor sent us to the emergency room after her lips turned blue. That was a scary car ride. She was admitted overnight, given iv fluids, and came home the next day. Doctors suspected RSV but could not confirm this.
For months afterwards we battled thrush, blocked tear ducts, and chronic fluid in her ears. Despite this, she grew and thrived. She was naughty, crawling after the cats and getting into the dog’s food. I have video of her crawling up the stairs after her older brother. She was 8 months old.
Yet, by her first birthday I noticed that she was not speaking as much as she had been. She had started saying words at around 9 months old, but she wasn’t really using them like she had back then. She also didn’t mimic us. Turned out that she still had the chronic fluid in her ears. Her doctor monitored this for months, until I asked for a referral to the ENT. When the pediatrician refused because she felt my daughter was too young to have tubes placed in her ears, I self-referred to the ENT and changed pediatricians.
At 19 months, she received the tubes and her ears drained for nearly a week. Almost immediately, she began talking more but her speech reflected her impaired hearing. When she said “baby” it sounded like “bobby.” Because I was familiar with the system, I scheduled an evaluation for early intervention services to see if she qualified for speech therapy.
During the assessment, she did great. When the evaluators shared their results with me, one of them said “she is really bright, you might have a hard time keeping up with her.” She did not qualify for services.
Later that day I shared the results with my husband. Preening, we congratulated ourselves with how brilliant out child was despite the difficulties she had faced in her short life – clearly her resilience was related to our parenting.
The next morning I woke up early because I could hear her crying. As I opened the door to her room, it was dark and I had difficulty making out her shape within her crib. She was standing, crying, and…something was on her forehead. It looked like blood. In a panic I flicked the overhead light on.
My brilliant child had covered herself in her own poop, which she had fished out of her diaper. She had poop on her face. In her hair. In both hands. On the sheet. The crib. The WALL.
We assumed it was nature’s way of taking us down a peg or two. We know she is smart, but we keep it to ourselves now.